Thursday, July 12, 2007

Scared

It occurred to me today that I'm having a baby. Wow, it only took me 21 weeks and 1 day! Hurrah. I must be some new kind of smart. I somehow thought that it would be more real the second time around. In contrast, I think I may have been in a complete denial until I felt a few tentative jabs in my lower abdomen a week or so ago. In truth, I still look at women in the final stages of pregnancy, and wonder at the changes in their life they're about to go through - without making any comparison to myself.

You would think since I have already had a baby, I would know what I was doing and what to expect. I don't. In fact, to me it seems worse, because now everyone expects me to have my sh*t together. I don't. It starts at a very basic level. Since the Boy was "from his mother's womb untimely ripped", I have never actually given birth. I went through a few hours labour before the operation, but I don't know what pushing a baby through a woefully small hole is like. But of course, that is just the beginning, isn't it?

I do, however, remember the early days, and I'm not anxious to return to them. I didn't nickname them "the Dark Days" for nothing. I remember walking around in a daze of pain and bewilderment, seeing the world as if through a fog. I remember nights of sleeping one hour out of every three. I remember the constant worry of no milk, no weight gain, jaundice, colic, hernia. I remember looking forward to our bi/tri-weekly visits to the hospital as a way of having contact with the outside (adult) world. I remember it not being a peaceful time, watching a sweet-smelling newborn contentedly sleeping or cooing. I would do it all over again in a hearbeat for the Boy, but it doesn't mean that I would look forward to it.

And how does it work with two, anyway? The basic, daily stuff I mean. How do I get any rest when both kids are on different napping schedules? How do I get the Boy to daycare/preschool when I'm taking care of a wee babe? Should the Boy go to daycare part-time or should he stay home full-time with me? He needs some interaction beyond what I can give him, and I believe the new baby deserves some uninterrupted mommy-time, just like the Boy had when he was young. Should I take him out of daycare and enroll him in a preschool that does, say, just mornings? When I even think of these questions, I feel very selfish, like I don't want him around or something. I do! I just really believe that some time away from the Mommy-Hawk who watches his every move is good for him. He needs space to spread his wings. Even if it's only an hour or two a day.

And what happens when the year of maternity leave is up? Do I go back to work? Can I afford to, even if the miraculous happens and I find two daycare spots or a nanny? While my salary is decent, it would, after taxes, just cover the care costs for two kids. Does it really make sense to go back to work? It does, when you want to go back to work. When work is something that makes you a saner, and therefore better, mother.

Of course, at the heart of this dilemma is the fact that I don't have a terrible lot of confidence in my abilitiy to mother a newborn. Some people just seem born to it, and I am so very jealous of that. I think I kick ass at being a mother to a toddler, though. I sometimes lose my patience, of course. I hope I'm not the only one. But, in general, I feel that I've really hit my stride with the Boy. I get it. My life is still chaos, but it's a controlled, well-organized chaos. I can deal with that. I am not anxious to go back to that state of helplessness, feeling like a complete washout. I also don't want to spend the poor kid's whole baby stage, just wishing he/she would reach toddlerdom. That's not cool. And it's a waste of a truly magical time.

It seems to me that all the support out there goes to the first-time mothers. While I don't dispute that they need all the help they can get, is there anything out there to support the second or third time mothers? I've never seen a mommy-baby group where the mothers have more than one kid. Are we supposing, then, that mothers with multiple children all have a network of friends and a support system in place? Exercise classes are generally for mom and one baby, not mom and baby and preschooler. Other types of classes like Kindergym or Swimming are for a specific ages, and when one goes, the other is not welcome. Ack! My head is splitting trying to figure this all out. Did I miss some sort of crucial education the first time around?

Am I allowed to be scared? Or do I have to keep pretending that I'm nothing but excited?? Because I am excited, you see. I'm thrilled, I'm emotional, I'm half in love with a person I've never even met. I always thought our family wouldn't be complete until there were four of us, and this is my dream realized. But I'm tired of pretending that that's all there is to it.. That there isn't anxiety, worry, and fear behind it too. Because there is. And I can't deal with it unless I own up to it.

16 comments:

bubandpie said...

The Dark Days are so much more well-lit the second time around. The inner panic of total ignorance is gone, and you really KNOW that those days aren't going to last forever.

I didn't put any pressure on myself to enjoy the "crying months" - but there were many things about them that I did enjoy, even as recognized that the first year is basically an endurance test.

I went to plenty of playgroups with both children in tow - and a lot of parents take the younger child while the older one is in JK/SK.

If you can afford some part-time day-care, it's definitely worth doing - I know lots of people who did that, though I didn't myself. For the first few months, Pie was willing to settle down on the couch with me for a long afternoon nap after Bub went down for his nap - and by the time she was nine months old, they were doing their afternoon naps simultaneously. Oh happy day!

mcewen said...

I remember feeling like that. Pregnant for ever, for ever, for ever and then suddenly thinking - oh the baby really is coming!
Best wishes

kittenpie said...

Honey, I am totally with you. I was never a baby person, and my baby wasn't even that challenging. I just don't function well when I'm all mombified with no sleep. And they aren't nearly as fun and cute and interactive and little people. I get that.

I've thought a lot, too, about the second child thing, and how it would work. I think I would leave Pumpkinpie in daycare - she likes it there, she has friends, she'll be in school, and then I can give babe 2 the same kind of attention she got before s/he has to go on out into the wide world. It feels like a bad mommy decision, like shipping Pumpkinpie off, but I think it's right for us. I could pick her up early on days that go well, walk her to school in the mornings, that kind of thing, to give us nice little extra bits when I have it in me.

You are feeling what you are feeling, really. It doesn't matter what people want to "allow" you, what you think you should feel like, etc. it just is. And I can totally understand it.

painted maypole said...

Of course you can be scared. It's OK. Lots of mommies go to mommy groups with 2 or more kids. It's OK. You'll have some dark days, probably, but you will be fine. And preschool is great for little ones. Do it with no guilt. Enjoy the time with the new baby, and let your little boy grow some wings.

Bon said...

y'know, while i very much want another, all the things you said about support and mommy-baby groups...i've wondered about that too. and it daunts me a little, but now that you've thrown it out in the open, i - at least - feel better. :)

so very kind of you.

and what B&P said heartens me too...i know with another, i'd be more able to realize that the sometimes sheer hell of it doesn't last forever. perhaps not always, would i see this wisdom. but maybe more than this time 'round.

it's funny, isn't it, that it take so long for pregnancy to fully dawn on you? that "oh right" moment, where the baby part begins to sink in. no matter how i hoped or struggled to ever believe that i'd get to take home a baby, the shock of it still caught me off guard.

kgirl said...

friend, i truly know what you're going through. all i can say is, you'll hit your stride.
just because there were dark days with the boy doesn't mean that there will be with #2. i had a really easy birth and no dark days with bee - but is that a guarantee that i'll have a repeat with soon-to-bee? of course not, there aren't any. and yup, it's scary.

there are so many things scaring me about having another, and they go way beyond the classic, 'how can i love the second like i love the first?'

but whatever happens, you guys will hit your stride.

(we should really get together and reassure each ohter over decaf lattes)

Suz said...

We have twins, so we had to deal with many of the issues that you mention right off the bat. I can tell you that we, in our area of the country, found a nanny to be cheaper for two children than sending them both to daycare. Even factoring in a day or two of preschool, it was still less expensive.

And I think that no matter how many kids you have, two, three, or ten, that anticipating meeting the round-the-clock needs of an infant is scary. It just is.

metro mama said...

My friend, I am still too scared to even get down to making number two!

The early days were dark for me too. But, just remember, you got through it the first time, and you'll do it again.

Beck said...

Not only do I have three kids but I am seriously considering having FOUR kids.
"I've never seen a mommy-baby group where the mothers have more than one kid. Are we supposing, then, that mothers with multiple children all have a network of friends and a support system in place?"
Okay, yes. I did have more friends with kids the second and third time around AND I just didn't want to go to mommy-baby group anymore, which turned out to be something that I was doing more for myself than my kids - with two kids in the house, I always knew that the baby was getting lots of other-kid time. But you can still go to mommy-baby group with a toddler and a baby, of course.

As far as the logistics of having two small children, they DO feel daunting when you're pregnant with 2#, definitely. I remember having nightmares about getting everyone safely into their carseats while I was pregnant - but I don't remember that actually being a daunting thing once we had our second baby.

Hey, I had a c-section the first time and went on to have two v-bacs. Vaginal birth CAN be daunting but recovery is MUCH MUCH EASIER. MUCH.

Having multiple children can be challenging but REALLY, I've found that it's made me a substantially better mother - I need all my ingenuity, my patience and my energy, but at the end of the day, it's very rewarding to look at my family, these children. You'll have fun. Really.

NotSoSage said...

These are many of the same fears I have about having #2. As you know, part of the reason we're waiting is the financial stuff. I think you shouldn't feel guilty about wanting The Boy in at least part-time daycare while you're with #2. In some ways, keeping him in care might ease the transition for him...so that it's not a new sibling AND spending all day at home with Mommy.

You can do it, that I know. And you can pull off the labour, too. You're strong.

ewe are here said...

Gah! I'm on my way to bed now... just cruising through... but I have so much to say to you about your fears and your questions on this post!

Yes, I'm all about the *ssvice, but since you're soliciting... and since this post hits a little close to home...

I will email you this weekend if I find your email link on your home page... remind me if you want...
:-)

Kyla said...

YES! You can be scared. Everyone is. I think the second time feels even more frightening, because you are so concerned about slighting the child you already have. But the transition from 1-2 really is easier than going from 0-1...even if it doesn't feel like it beforehand. You'll live. The Boy will live. And new baby will live. It just works, I can't explain how.

Part time daycare is a good idea if you can swing it. I know my BubTar gets crazy if he's home too much, and needs that time away. Its good for you as well.

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

Yep, it's okay to be scared.

I'm 9 weeks in with #2. It's hard, tho not as hard as with #1. So many things forgotten, but so easily relearned.

Hardest part right now is that I feel as if I'm always putting one down for a nap, but never seem to have them napping at the same time.

Good luck to you. Here via a comment you left at HBM.

Christine said...

oh girl, it is totally ok to be scared. it can all be down right terrifying. feel what you feel and don't feel bad about it. as cliche as it sounds you are going to be just fine, though there is no denying the rough times.

And there are lots of mom groups for people with several kids. the group I am in has moms with lots of kids--my one friend has an older child who is 21 and her youngest is 3.

Naomi (Urban Mummy) said...

I found it much easier (in some ways) the second time around. I had an easier birth. I knew what was coming, so I prepared (bought and filled a freezer with food in my 9th month!).

I also have a second baby that Does. Not. Sleep. Well. Even now, at 9 months, he's up at least twice every night.

As for daycare/preschool - you would NOT be a horrible/selfish mother for sending the boy. In fact, personally? I think the opposite. Don't keep him home because you think you should. Allow him some autonomy so he has something that is all his, and doesn't get consumed with jealousy for the baby.

Good luck!!

Susanne said...

I'd say it's totally normal to be scared. But then you know that people have lived through this. And, as the comments before me show, you have a lot of people here who already have two. (Not me.)